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RogerMc

Thinnest possible T-TRAK module?

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RogerMc

It's no secret to most people that I am not a big fan of the costly, heavy, large boxes that most people build T-TRAK modules on. Here's another idea for a single that I'm playing with.

 

Build the track and scenery on a surface of Masonite or Ultraboard. Then use hardboard (walnut?) front and backs with a rabbet slot to slide the scenery surface into. A variety of heights of front/back could be made to handle different height requirements. At home I might not even use the front/backs and simply lay the scenery surface directly on a table.

 

The concept would solve some of the issues I have with traditional T-TRAK modules while hopefully maintaining compatibility. It might be a little tricky to build with the tools available to me.

 

Thoughts/comments?

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katoftw

Removed 9mm pky and replaced with bigger 20mm ends. Feels like opposite effect achieved.

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cteno4

Roger,

 

nice and simple. That slot is a dado joint, rabbet joints are a recess on the edge. some cross pieces of 3/4” stock could hold threaded inserts for bolt legs.

 

to keep things simpler you could just put the top ply or Ultraboard on top of the front/back pieces. Use cheap wood for the front/back pieces and use 2” veneer for the front edge (and back if you want to make it pretty). You can get hot glue veneer that you basically just iron on.
 

ive done my old 25 streetcar modules in a similar fashion. Mine are just 1” strips of 3/4” stock for the front and back edges to make a 1” high face. I put a flus rabbet joint for 5mm Luan ply top to rest in. I just made these 8” long and lopped them off at 12 1/8” chunks (or 2x for a few club members). Then added a couple of pieces of cross 3/4” stock inset a bit on each end for the threaded inserts for bolt legs. i have 4’ long girders I built that are 2” high and 9” wide that have dowels for cross pieces. These have 4 threaded inserts in them. So I can plop down 4 modules on a girder and level it as one piece with 4 bolts.

 

Worked well and still using them.

 

cheers,

 

jeff

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The Next Station Is...

Hi Roger, 

 

I think it could look pretty classy with the front and backs made nicely - I always like a layout or module with a nicely finished front. Would you have the front  piece flush with other modules, or have the front of the visible scenery in line with the front of other modules? 

 

Jeff - that iron on veneer sounds interesting, thanks for the mention! My T-Trak modules could definitely use something like that (currently showing exposed laser cut ply). 

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cteno4

Yeah the 2.75” face is really a bad distractor visually to the diorama on top. Painting the face black or brown just makes it stand out even more (it does not make it go Into negative space!). it was made that way to allow a wide range in running heights with a single set of bolts, not for it to look right. 
 

Really should be around 1-2” for the optimal feel of an edge there on a long run while visually not catching the eye. We deal with this all the time in exhibits with case and trim work. Natural finished wood is what will make the eye accept it and move on to the diorama and just use it as the edge of the visual world without becoming another world.

 

you can get 3” heat glue veneer, but it’s a bit rarer and more expensive. I did pick some up a few months back in cherry (my proffered wood for the fronts as it has nice grain and color without being too much and you can pop it if you want with some wood dye) for folks that wanted full height Ttrak modules in the club. I usually do 2” fronts these days and the 2” tape is about 25 cents a foot and the 3” is like 70 cents a foot.

 

rogers design with the dado slot is nice also because it’s uber simple for someone to glue up. I keep thinking of what’s the easiest, cheapest and minimal in bulk and weight to ship for the economy module as lazer/CNC kits can get expensive especially with shipping these days. I think for Ttrak to really take off there needs to be a way to get the modules simple and very economical for newbies. At $30-60 per module shipped that can really get pricy for just a small loop.

 

for my own modules I’ve been also noodling on what the most aesthetically looking options would be along with simplicity of setup. The three bolt option really helps this a lot.

 

keep at it roger! Great to keep kicking this can around and around!

 

cheers

 

jeff

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RogerMc
1 hour ago, cteno4 said:

Great to keep kicking this can around and around!

 

Ultimately for me it all comes down to space and lack of it. I've got (4) commercial boxes and a number of experiments. I barely have a loop for my layout at home. The commercial boxes are above all else ugly and bulky. They aren't cheap. I've heard of grade school kid clubs building T-TRAK layouts on pizza boxes. That's a great idea!

 

I'm trying to find a flat solution for home while still being able to get together at shows @ 70mm if I am forced to. I want sectional track and scenery in the most compact form I can find.

 

I have no intention of using any glue to construct the module because I wouldn't use the front/back pieces at home, only for shows. Only when I am forced to use that height.

 

Today I'm playing with a simple universal leg design because I tire of adjusting the height by turning a 3-4 bolts. There's an easier and faster way to do this stuff. I'd like to be able to adjust my modules to a specific height in maybe 10sec for each module.

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cteno4

Yep and as a club when we do a show if we have to combine modules into one transport vehicle depending on who can do setup, it can get awfully full as most folks use various plastic tubs to transport and usually take min of 200% plus volume! Just carrying the stacks is a pain and Easy to knock over. So next project as soon as the last few modules are finished for others is to start working on the little carrier crates so we can stack like 4-10 modules in some suit case crates for better transport and better protection.

 

It will be interesting to see what you come up with for the legs, adjusting bolts is the biggest PITA of a setup! Going to 3 bolts greatly helps over 4. Doing the thin modules and setting those on some inset girders is even better as you can do 4 modules at once. We set up at one event on a lawn with a 4” slope down the 8’ of modules. We could never get individual modules leveled over that, would take a few hours, but with the girders is 10 min leveling the 4 x 4’ girders and then just plop all the modules down. They do all need to be the same thickness but all our 25mm modules are 1”. At times we use sections of the 25mm modules on 33 mm setups using transition modules and just use the girders to lift the 1” modules up to 3.75” running height easily.

 

jeff

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RogerMc

As far as legs, I made these today but not happy with them, talk about ugly.

 

 

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RogerMc

Realized today that they aren't so distracting when used on the top-most notch. Given the pennies involved, it would be possible to create a collection in sizes 2.75, 3.0, 3.25, 3.5, 3.75, 4.0".

 

The notches ~do~ need to be a bit deeper for better holding. I even created a model with T-TRAK on the front.

 

 

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cteno4

Roger,

 

one issue (especially with masonite) May be warping with time and scenery application. Even 5mm luan ply (very moisture resistant) can warp With some weight and time. That’s why I liked having a 1” tall frame to give good rigidity for the long term. Also give a space for feeder wires to go.

 

i would make the grooves deeper, maybe make the bottom flange one the underside deeper to give a bit more stable surface to rest on as setting up you do have a fair amount of wrenching around. Are you 3D printing these? Wondering if a threaded leveler could be integrated as even the nicest plastic tables there are the slight waves.

 

wonder if a simple box joint sort of origami girder (aka wine box insert) that could span like 4 modules with just 4 leveling bolts (or even just 3) might keep things minimal, allow fast leveling of 4 modules at a time. It would give you a nice inset face and then 3D print some rectangular threaded bolt inserts you could glue onto the shorter cross pieces. I was thinking about this in the future 33 modules as I hate leveling as well and the girders have worked so well with the 1” module. The girders I made for the 25mm are a bit bulky and doing the box joint lattice to put our club modules on worked out well and is super compact. A like 1.75” tall girder lattice could be done out of 5mm ply easily and come apart into a very compact stack.

 

Cheers,

 

jeff

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brill27mcb

I have found, with much more heavily-built O-scale trolley modules, that warping can also readily happen with plywood module tops. This is not just from weight and gravity, but also partly due to painting the top side but not the underside of the plywood, especially with latex paint. The ingredients in paint that make it want to level itself out seem to create a tension on the painted surface, and a tension on the top side that is not offset by a similar tension on the bottom side contributes to the downward warping, I believe.

 

Rich K.

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defor

Just saw this- I've been building my B-Train work desk layout in 3 separate-able modules (not t-trak) for my work desk using foam directly glued to the masonite- the effect of gluing the foam to the masonite results in a ridiculously rigid module overall, while still being light (have carried the modules to and from work on public transportation with ease)- I suppose if you're going for thinness and not doing foam, you'd have to do it the way you show, but if you had a foam scenery layer on top, you could likely hide carriage bolt leg holes and just attach when needed to elevate to height.

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cteno4

Yep latex paint does shrink some when it fully dries. Exterior is the worst as I think they like it to sort of make a shrink fit coating to the house! I think on Ttrak modules any framing would stop most warping but just the ply or masonite sheet I’m not sure once painted unless both sides painted at the same time.
 

another issue with only painting one side is the unpainted side can suck up moisture more and expand and and warp.
 

we had our layout 2.0 modules warp some due to latex paint. They were first varnished on all faces of the module to be completely sealed. They were completely flat for a few months until we put a coat of grey latex down on the top as a base scenery color before laying track. Over about a month the paint shrunk up and pulled the modules up a couple of mm. We put some slits in the paint layer with a razor and clamped them down for a few days and most of the warp popped out and with time getting wracked around I think paint loosened up some and all the warp seemed to come out eventually. Believe me it was a bummer after all the hard work and design to make nice flat, stuff modules to have them warp!

 

defor, laminating masonite and foam really is a nice option as it really does help keep the masonite from warping and masonite strengthens the foam.

 

i made Kato shinkansen station plates by laminating 1\8} masonite, 3/16” foam core in the middle and Formica sheet on top (could have been 040 stryene as well). It made a thin but super stiff platform base. Some of it has been in the garage for like 14 years now with our large humidity and temp swings and not warped a bit wit no other bracing! Lamination works!

 

jeff

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tossedman

There's a fella at our local train show a few years ago that used aluminum extrusion frames with a thin plywood top. Looked pretty cool.  Maybe not the thinnest but still cool.

 

 

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Edited by tossedman
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katoftw

Those aee pretty good. Are the legs removable?

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cteno4

Most likely removable, in channel track like that you can just slide a nut into the channel to screw the leg into. Metal picture frame would works the same way but need something to attach legs to.

 

jeff

 

 

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tossedman
katoftw

Thanks. We have same here in oz. $1.80 per 100mm for the 2020 size.

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Keith

I have been looking at these as well for a multi level layout. I was going to use it for support with a plywood frame, but I can’t find anywhere in oz that does laser cutting of plywood to make a frame.

 

keith

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